Woodbury and Page

Walter Bentley Woodbury and James Page.

Both born in England, Woodbury and Page were two photographers living in Australia who set out for Batavia in the Dutch Indies to set up a photography studio.  Opening shop in 1857, the duo developed a photography studio in Java that lasted until the early 20th century, and became one of the most important photographic endeavors of the Dutch colonial era in Indonesia.

Originally the venture was simply a collaboration with just the two photographers, Woodbury and Page, but because of their immediate success after landing in Java, the studio grew into a larger enterprise.

The venture proved to be quite profitable, and documented an extensive look at the archipelago.  While primarily working in Java, the photographers explored many of the islands, including an extensive document of the Dutch wars in Aceh, North Sumatra.

Originally a portrait studio, their project grew to include distribution and sale of photographic materials and tools, workshops and courses on photographic techniques, production of landscape and architectural photographs, and even cartes-de-visites, a much more commercially lucrative form of photographic portraiture.

During the 1860’s, the business went through a number of changes.  Woodbury and Page split for a while.  Walter handed over much of the business to his brothers, and studios were run in both Batavia and Surabaya.  Page rejoined the business, and the studios retained the name Woodbury and Page.  Walter Bentley returned to England, and pursued a number of different photographic inventions, most notably the photomechanical technique called the Woodburytype.  The Woodbury and Page studios continued for many years, more than once sold outside of the family, though largely run by a Woodbury legacy.

Despite being of English origin, the Woodbury and Page studios won great favor with the Dutch royal family, and was considered a major contributor to documenting the Dutch colonial project.  The studios were most productive during 1870-1880, while Albert Woodbury was running the firm.

James Page died in 1865 of illness developed in the tropics.  Walter Woodbury died twenty years later in 1885 of a laudanum overdose.

*Most information taken from Woodbury and Page:  Photographers Java, by Steven Wachlin, KITLV Press, 1994.

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